I’m one of two queer girls that were monogamous for a year, but from day one talked mutually about wanting to be open. After a lying episode (described below), we opened up a little, limited to group situations, and after that a few brief, casual triad relationships. I still have some issues trusting her since the lying, and lately we’ve opened the conversation to dating separately, thinking it's been long enough, and we are strong enough together to do so. And we're finding... we’re not.
She went out with the ONE PERSON I'd asked her not to become involved with (this person is known in our community for seeking ways to break couples up and bragging about it). They go out and they make out. I didn't find out about it for weeks of my partner acting shady. I didn't even know they hung out together until photos surfaced on Facebook and an unsaved number was popping up on her phone rather frequently. I confronted my SO. She admitted omitting that this girl was present while she was out that night, said they just danced, but after a month of prodding her she admitted they hung out until 5am and made out on the dancefloor. Pre-nonmonogamy. While kissing isn't a big deal, it was shiestyness and the weeks of lying that made me feel the worst, and made me doubt the most. I felt nuts, like my gut was dead wrong and I was just acting crazy. Now, I'll never be 100% sure she didn't cheat on me that night.
That was a year and a half ago. Since then, we only date people together, which has been a weird, sexy, exhilarating, and super bumpy road.
Recently, we met someone that was more interested in my SO than me, and my SO asked to date her solo. This would be the first time either of us had a secondary. I got crazy. I got insecure. I started to panic. I feared the works: losing my partner, that things would move too fast and she’d fall in love and leave me. Everything.
My partner was sweet. She listened, she reassured. Still scared. I asked they slow down the relationship, and not sleep together yet. This new person was traveling, so she was leaving town for weeks on end. With each trip, my SO tried to maximize her time with her before she left again. They only went on two dates alone; the other times they hung out I was there, and not really by choice. My SO would be like: hey they’re having this party, we should go. Or, hey can this person meet us now, while we’re out together, just to hang out? And I was finding myself bending, because I genuinely liked the girl, and her intentions seemed on par. But I was spending every other day around the two of them, even when I expressed that I was struggling. I was letting myself be manipulated out of my comfort zone repeatedly, and I was starting to resist and resent.
I ask again for things to slow down. They didn’t. The girl was around a ton, and when she was out of town, me and my SO were fighting. They had very little alone time, so my partner thought they were
going slow. The fact that we spent so much time with her socially didn’t strike my SO as “seeing” her, and she seemed unable to resist this new person regardless of how I was feeling. I get NRE, but I was begging for mercy and was getting none.
I wrote a list of boundaries. They were tight, but subject to change as I got used to things. There were limitations around weekdays vs weekends, what time she gets home (so we can have a check-in after dates, before she falls asleep), zero hooking up. Just while I got comfortable.
But my SO wanted to fuck her, and she wanted to do it before her next trip, which was coming up fast. I stuck to my guns. She would be back, why the rush? But she pushed, and I agreed they could hang out more than planned. Things between them became more intense, and my SO reapplied pressure. I said I still wasn’t ready, but told her, "If you want permission, fine. Fuck her. But I am not okay with it." I said "if you need it so bad, so soon, then just do it." At that point, my feelings didn’t seem to be much of a factor anymore. I gave up.
I told her I’d have to heal in therapy after the fact, instead of handling it at a pace that felt safe. I told her if they hooked up, she was NOT to come home after (we share a place), nor the next morning, and that I didn’t want to smell another girl’s nether regions on her, ever. I was triggered. She saw that and calmed down. She assured me that she knew better, wasn’t going to do that, and just wanted to spend time with the girl before her trip. So I gave my blessing that they go out alone, again.
I was really proud of myself during this date. I stayed busy, took care of myself in positive ways, kept calm. My SO stayed in touch, and I felt secure. She came home and I was happy to see her and I wasn't in a negative head space.
I had MADE IT! I got past the demons, she stayed within bounds, and I was going to be okay with her seeing someone else. It felt really, really, good. Like I just climbed a mini Mount Everest in my polyness.
She took off her jacket, went to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and came to bed to snuggle. And then she kissed me hello. Friends, my SO has perfect skin and never wears makeup, so NEVER washes her face, except in the shower. And she had washed her face. My ears pricked. She brushed her teeth, too, and since she was making out with someone, I appreciated that courtesy. But when she kissed me, all I smelled was vagina. I’m a lesbian. I know pussy when I smell it and I can smell it a mile away. I looked her dead in the eyes. Did you guys hook up? “No.” She kisses me again. Are you sure? “I swear we were just hanging out, I did NOT hook up with her.” Am I completely nuts, or do you smell like vagina?
The record stops. She sits up. She lies once:
it was just fingers, over her panties. Again:
maybe under them. Again:
I might have “kissed” her there, a little. She comes clean (maybe?):
she ate her out in the bathroom stall minutes before texting me she was on her way home. She lied to the girl
that it was “okay" to hook up.
It was not. She knew it, admitted it, but it was too late. All the stuff from the first lying came rushing back, on top of some very serious baggage of mine from past relationships, and I was floored. I was repulsed. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. I rationalized, then became irrational. I was completely and utterly beside myself.
Also, when she came home from her first date, I smelled the same thing on her hands, and she insisted it was her own, from changing a tampon. As I’m writing this, I’m starting to re-think that excuse for the n-th time. I didn't buy it at first, but then eventually believed her that time. And have even since asked, just to be sure, but again: I’m never going to know what happened that night, and who knows what she didn't tell me from their last date.
She violated my trust something fierce, and even my health. She shit on my boundaries, down to the worst one. She said she never should have agreed to them, they were too strict for her, and that feeling “controlled” only made her want to break more rules. She was afraid I would “never” get over my fears and she would “never” get anything she wants out of poly, so she just did what she wanted, figuring I wasn’t going to let her have it, ever. She didn’t trust me to ever grow, which has been a common theme when things don’t go smoothly: she accuses me of not really wanting to be poly, saying I lie to keep her around. I take huge offense to that, and she knows it, because of all the positive work we’ve done over the past 1.5 years.
She and I have our own personal demons that created this toxic, negative cycle (more on that here, in a post I created about negative cycles
), and we’re owning it. The third party freaked that I freaked, and backed out, so the relationship is over. And I’m super relieved, but my partner isn’t. And I am still left with the scar of what went down to work through on top of everything else.
Our therapist says what we need to do next is rebuild trust. My SO needs to be able to trust that I can grow, and I need to trust that she can handle tight bounds until I get comfortable with her dating people without me. SHE says she has zero
boundaries about me dating or having relationships with people other than her, but I always feel like that’s a lot of her trying to guilt me about having so many of my own boundaries for her. Like, she allows me do to do whatever I want (which is permission I’ve never asked for and never take advantage of when she’s not around), so why can’t she.
Leaving her was certainly on the table through all of this, but now that the situation is in a calmer place, we will be staying together and working it out. We did have a strong mono relationship, and we are pretty successfully nonmonogamous. It's poly that's new, and proving quite difficult. We’ve agreed to take 6 months (give or take) to heal, and better understand how our relationship will work.
My question for the forum:
But how do I learn to trust her? How do I get her to behave in trustworthy ways? I can’t control what she does (obviously), but I think I deserve to have a say in how things go. Were my rules too strict? If she were your SO in their first secondary relationship, would her infidelity be a deal-breaker for you guys? If not, and/or if you’ve experienced similar, how did it pan out? Any insight would be helpful.